Famed 16th Century Italian Synagogue, Damaged by Nazis, is Restored

A 16th Century Italian synagogue, devastated by the Nazis during World War II, has been completely restored and promises to become a tourist attraction and a repository of Jewish religious art of the Renaissance period. The synagogue is located in Casale Monferrato, in Northern Italy, between Turin and Milan. The restoration work was accomplished over the past 10 months by Jewish and non-Jewish volunteers under the supervision of the regional art department.

The synagogue was rededicated at ceremonies attended by Dr. Elio Toaff, Chief Rabbi of Rome, and Dr. Sergio Piperno, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.

The synagogue was built in 1595 under a special concession to the Jews by the Duke of Mantua, It served a community that, at its peak, numbered some 800 Jews but which has dwindled to 15 since World War II. During the 16th and 17th Centuries it was embellished with art and came to be recognized as one of Italy’s architectural masterpieces. When the Nazis occupied Italy, the building was severely damaged but most of the religious objects had been hidden and were saved.

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